Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JAM (02/09/17)
- TITLE: Zooming in a Zebra Hat
By Judith Gayle Smith
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Betsy, a sometimes jumpy but always vain septuagenarian, nearsightedly caught her reflection in the unflattering medicine cabinet mirror. She earlier applied her bright cherry red lipstick and eye makeup. In the bathroom she miserably noticed her crepey arms, shocking her unbelieving eyes. Forced to face the mirror, she unexpectedly espied her grandmother squinting balefully back at her. Double chins, sagging jowls.
Ignoring the dratted mirror, she shakily shimmied her unwilling frame into her favorite deep blue velvety soft dress. Shoving her blue-veined feet into her exquisite Zebra heels, she reached for her warm and fuzzy leopard vest. Finger combing the soft head of her favorite Zebra hat, she jammed it over her graying frizzy head. Grabbing her matching Zebra purse, she exited her "jungle" in her overworked power chair. She shops happily, finding foodstuffs for her family waiting to celebrate their annual valentine get-together.
Ah - Betsy's favorite grocery store. The employees treat her like royalty. She is cosseted, spoiled, loving every moment in the spotlight. The pharmacy folk know her by name and birth date.
Best of all - it is situated across the street from her favorite thrift store. Discovering Zebra shoes, a Zebra skirt - and a wee slip of a flower-trimmed Zebra over-blouse, she excitedly becomes her favorite animal.
Coaxing prettily, she snagged a harried "personal shopper" to help her. She preens and asks if he admires her Zebra outfit, He asks her how her week went - she replied, "terrific", unaware that he craved talking about his discomfiting week. She merrily whipped down the aisles, daring him to keep up with her. Marked-down area - a literal feast for her dollar - clumping cat litter half price, chocolate bark, breads and cakes.
To the meat counter for chicken thighs, a five-pound ground beef chub, "loose meats." Eggs, milk, whipped cream, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese sing their siren song to enchant willing Betsy to the dairy case.
Alex, her faithful personal helper reminds overeager Betsy that she is filling her cart too fast - forgetting her usual caution. He now jams everything into the suffering, overloaded cart. Sweetly smiling, she cautions Alex - reminding him that the customer is always right - no matter how crazy she is. There are juices, ice cream, frozen veggies. bananas and minced garlic to get. Gooey chocolate brownie mix, and yummy lemon bars mix - heavenly.
Alex lets the now overworked and sagging Betsy know the lift bus picks her up in fifteen minutes. Good kid. He dumps everything on the groaning counter. Betsy offers reusable bags to load the groceries, sitting delightedly chatting with Alex and her clowning cashier.
Over two-hundred dollars. Resolute Betsy cheerfully inserts her credit card into the chip reader.
"Not Authorized? Surprised, she cajoles the cashier to remove fifty dollars worth of "goodies" from her shopping bags. "Not Authorized" blinds her again. The line crowds behind poor little Betsy, who ruefully attempts to purchase only the eggs and milk. "Not Authorized" taunts her - sneeringly cruel.
Her toothless mouth is wide open from shock. Wilted, she apologetically gapes and gasps helplessly at the crowd behind her. Soothingly, the cashier says the bank across the street stays open until seven pm.
Panicking, she rolls to customer service for their phone. She calls the lift bus dispatcher to request longer time. She calls her husband to tell him she will be late getting home. She pops wheelies to reach the bank.
The stiffest breeze catches her Zebra hat, tossing it behind her. Poor Betsy weeps, striving to catch it - and catch it she does, jamming it even tighter atop her reeling head.
Rolling furiously to the bank, grabbing the locked door handle - she reads the bank's open hours posted on the door - closed at six pm. Back to her melting groceries. Praying her wheelchair will not run out of power, she rolls to customer service again. Exhausted, rumpled Betsy calls the credit card company for a balance in her account. Seventy-one dollars.
She has a check to deposit tomorrow, and her husband will accompany her to the bank and try to straighten out her confusion. She considers canceling the credit card. Her brain frequently dysfunctions, and this was a bad one. Talk about being in a real jam - and in public.
All is vanity.
Betsy's downfall? Vanity. Thinking she's still twenty-five - and not checking her bank account before she Zebra-zoomed out her front door.
This is fiction based on a true catastrophe.
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